Health plans with narrow provider networks have sparked broad controversy among healthcare providers and consumers. Insurers and employers are relying on them to keep premiums down and ensure quality, following experts who say such “value networks” are effective and necessary. But some patients complain when they learn their preferred doctors or hospitals are out of network or they can't access the most highly recommended specialists.
Last month, California lawmakers passed a bill requiring insurers to provide annual reports to the state about their networks, with state regulators publicly posting their assessments of those networks' adequacy. Multiple lawsuits have challenged the composition of networks offered by Anthem Blue Cross.